Ruling party steps up to foster cooperation with opposition parties

By a2017001
  • Published : May 17, 2017 - 16:41
  • Updated : May 17, 2017 - 16:41

The ruling Democratic Party on Wednesday revved up efforts to forge cooperative ties with opposition parties to support new President Moon Jae-in in seeking parliamentary backing for his Cabinet nominees, and economic and reform initiatives.

A day after his election as the party's new floor leader, Woo Won-shik paid courtesy calls to the leaders of the four opposition parties and reiterated his pledge to play a pivotal role in fostering cooperation among all parties.

The DP also created a senior party post in charge of strengthening cooperation with opposition parties. For the new post, first-term lawmaker Lee Hoon was appointed.

Woo Won-shik, the floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party speaks with Joo Ho-young, the floor leader of the splinter conservative Bareun Party at the National Assembly in Seoul on May 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

Ensuring smooth cooperation with the opposition bloc is seen as crucial for the new president, as their support is needed to pass any contested legislation to carry out his campaign pledges.

Moon's party currently holds 120 seats in the 299-seat parliament. By law, a contested bill can only be sent to a plenary session for a vote with the consent of at least 60 percent of the sitting lawmakers, or 180 seats.

During his meeting with opposition leaders, the DP whip said he would strive to get a better understanding of opposition parties' positions through close communication and coordination.

"Without cooperation, there is nothing (the ruling party and the government) can do," Woo said during a meeting with Joo Ho-young, the floor leader of the splinter conservative Bareun Party.

Before the meeting, Woo met with Chung Woo-taik, the acting leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, who warned the ruling camp against any unilateral legislative moves and vowed to "thoroughly" keep the ruling bloc in check.

"With piles of tasks in store for us, there could be cases in which we are caught in a tug of war," Chung said. "I hope that (the ruling party) will pay attention to what the opposition parties have to say and willingly accept their proposals as well."

The first test of Woo's leadership to forge rapport with the rival parties is expected to come during a parliamentary confirmation hearing for Prime Minister-nominee Lee Nak-yon. The two-day hearing is set to begin next Wednesday.

During the upcoming hearing, opposition parties are expected to grill Lee over a set of allegations, including his son's exemption from mandatory military service, which he attributed to a health problem.

Moon has been seeking to quickly gain parliamentary approval for Lee, as by law, the president can pick his Cabinet ministers through a prime minister's recommendations.

Opposition support is also crucial in drawing up a supplementary budget needed to deliver on Moon's key election pledge to create new jobs. Moon pledged to push for a 10 trillion won ($8.8 billion) extra budget in the first year of his presidency. (Yonhap)